Tornado in Worcester; an exploratory study of individual and community behavior in an extreme situation
"Two mothers reported seeing
their children float away from their side; each time the mother grabbed
the child and pulled it down, like pulling in a balloon floating away.
Many observers reported seeing heavy objects float across the floor
toward a window, not scraping the floor, and moving slowly. One man.
was carrying a crate of eggs; "the eggs were popping out of the crate
but they weren't falling to the ground." The explanation of the float-
ing phenomenon must be that when a "vacuum cap" is placed over the
area, the "free" air out-of-doors is sucked out almost instantly; the
air within structures goes next; but in-structure pockets of high pres-
sure air remain, particularly under objects like chairs, TV sets, and
even people, and in places like ovens, eggcrate partitions, etc. It is
quite obvious, for instance, that if even so small and dense an object
as an egg or a potato or a child's body were placed between a region
of twelve-pound air above and fourteen -pound air below, the pressure
differential on the upper and lower surfaces would be sufficient to
float it. The pressure differential may help explain how cars, loco-
motives, and even sidewalks are lifted up."
Subject: New England's Biggest Tornado
The most interesting point from my perspective is the large "chunks" of ice (hail) which preceded the actual tornado by 10 minutes - a phenomenon which IS highly suggestive of a tornadic storm in areas that are NOT located in the "hail belt" (i.e.,the plains states and upper Mississippi Valley). In fact, large hail (accompanied by debris lilting down from the sky) was also reported by residents some 15 - 30 miles away from the similarly violent Flint, MI tornado the evening before (personal knowledge). There were accounts of ice-caked items including mattresses falling into Boston Bay (I forget the source.
The reports of pressure-induced "explosions" has been since attributed to exposure to the inner wall of the funnel itself where wind speed and vorticity are at their max. It is thought that this funnel was relatively wide, large bore, almost cylindrical at times, and with an unusually large "eye."
Descriptions of casualties are presented in detail. Although not the case here, it is notable that corpses found after the Flint tornado of the previous day, had an unusual number of torn off limbs, even heads, such that engineering studies later performed (using cadaver parts) suggested that winds in excess of 400 mph (or the equivalent) were likely present in that funnel (personal communication).
A very illustrative account of what is likely (hopefully) a once in a thousand year event in a relatively low risk area for such occurrences. Some of the photos here I have not seen in any other treatise of this event.
Uploaded by ian aleksander adams on